The United States of Esoterica

Blizzard, Ice & Rain Slam the Heartland
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Author:  Oscar [ Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Blizzard, Ice & Rain Slam the Heartland

(State College, PA) - The nation's heartland, from the southern Plains to the Great Lakes, is being targeted by a powerful winter storm that contains a dangerous mix of weather including blizzard conditions, ice, rain and bitterly cold temperatures.

The flash point for the storm is the sharp cold front at the leading edge of the arctic air that has been moving out of the Northwest over the past several days. The front is clashing with the unseasonably warm air in place over the eastern third of the nation. On Wednesday, the front sparked rain and thunderstorms, hail and damaging winds from central Texas to Michigan.

The low pressure center responsible for the severe snow and thunderstorms will move to the northeast through Friday. The heaviest snowfall, ranging from 12 to 18 inches, will fall across northern Missouri and northwestern Illinois, with up to a foot of snow forecast from the Texas panhandle and northeastern Oklahoma through the Chicagoland area and into central Michigan.

In addition to the ice-covered roads, powerful winds is creating blizzard conditions across Oklahoma and eastern Kansas into the Midwest. Whiteouts and blowing and drifting snow will create dangerous travel conditions, especially in rural areas.

The Travel Center will have information on highway conditions and flight delays or cancellations. As always, allow extra driving time if you must travel through the storm area, and check with your airline before heading to the airport. Tuesday's high in Amarillo, Tex., was 67 degrees. Today, there is seven inches of snow on the ground and the high will only reach 28 degrees. Similarly, Wednesday's high in Dallas was 79 degrees, while today's forecast high is 33 degrees.

The Weather Summaries page has more detail on the major winter storm. Kate Bilo and cameraman Verne Horst are on the road covering the storm as it makes its way toward Chicago.

Earlier today, rain changed to ice as cold air undercut the warmer air above the surface. Overland Park, Kan., was coated with a half of an inch of freezing rain in less than four hours and streets in the Kansas City area were turned into skating rinks.

The Winter Weather Center is warning icy conditions will exist from northeastern Texas to southeastern Ontario as rain passes through a thin layer of below-freezing air, creating ice pellets or turning the rain to ice as it reaches the ground. The frozen precipitation is coating trees, power lines, sidewalks and roadways, especially bridges and overpasses, adding to the hazardous travel conditions and creating the potential for power outages.

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